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LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
 
FSA LogoThe Luxury Hotel Insider: Exclusive luxury hotel deals, features and special rates from the luxury hotel experts at Five Star Alliance. 
 
Named one of Tripbase's Best Luxury Travel Blogs for 2011, below are Five Star Alliance's newest articles featuring exclusive information on luxury hotels worldwide including special offers and deals at the world's best hotels.

Azul Beach Hotel Debuts Vassa Spa

June 21, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

Hotel renovations are nothing new in this business. In fact, luxury hotels update so often to stay at the cutting edge of service and amenities that it's barely even news when an iconic hotel redoes its rooms. What really gets the writers out in droves is a completely new addition, and the Azul Beach Hotel has everyone with quill and ink scrambling to cover the Vassa Spa, theirly newly constructed spa facility. The 8,075 square foot spa supports guests at any of the 90 newly renovated rooms at this family-oriented boutique hotel. Even better, Azul Beach Hotel is famous for its all-inclusive rates, so you can be greeted upon arrival with a relaxing hydrotherapy routine without a care in the world. From there, move on to its spa suites where facials, massages, and aromatherapy are just par for the course while you enjoy the natural food supplements and healthful fruit waters. 

Kids are never forgotten, as alongside the Vassa Spa is Perfectly Pink, a place for young girls to get child-safe versions your treatments. Your daughter can get her nails done while you relax your cares away. A full kid's club provides parent support and even loans out baby equipment, so that families are always taken care of. If you're looking for a more romantic outing, the Azul Beach Hotel offers a full program for you as well. Beachfront Sky Massages and Junior Swim Up Suits, which have direct access to the property's relax river. Whatever your style, the Azul Beach Hotel is looking better than ever with the addition of the Vassa Spa.


Sponsored Feature: The Orient Express's Casa de Sierra Nevada and Observatory Hotel

May 4, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

What follows are impressions of two of our favorite Orient Express properties, the Observatory Hotel in Sydney and the Casa de Sierra Nevada, in many ways very different hotels, and in more than just their geography.  

Observatory Hotel, Sydney, Australia

I'll confess a fair bit of ignorance about why the Observatory Hotel is actually called the Observatory. Perhaps it was the site of a revolutionary astronomical discovery or it used to house the local planetarium in a forgotten back room. Maybe it just has a habit of flowering the walls at a party in order to better watch the crowd. It's a mystery as enigmatic as the stars in the sky, and we may never know. Well, it probably has something to do with the adjacent Observatory Park, but why spoil the hyperbole?

What I do know is that the Observatory Hotel is a perfect luxury hotel to use as jumping off point for exploring Sydney, a city that thrums with the heartbeat of a constantly evolving culture. Not far from the Rocks and Circular Quay, not to mention the Sydney Opera House, you're right in the middle of the action. As a break from experiencing all the city has to offer, you can retreat back to the quiet inner sanctum of the Observatory to enjoy an afternoon tea at the Globe Bar & Brasserie. For more substantial fare, head to Galileo in the evening, and you'll experience their amazing interpretation of fine French cuisine (the mystery of the name is quickly unravelling faster than the flat earth theory). If you're looking to stay in the utmost of style, make sure to book their gorgeous presidential suite, a study in aesthetics that makes extensive use of objects d'Art and features a four-poster bed. The Observatory Hotel is an extra-classy place to stay for the discerning traveler who finds themselves in Sydney.

Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Across the world from the Observatory Hotel, you'll find the Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende. Built in 1580, the Sierra Nevada is one of the smallest hotels in our collection. With just 33 rooms, the hotel is a serene escape from the bustle of everyday life. An inner courtyard is the perfect enclosure to keep the busy noise of the outside world at bay while you relax and refresh in one of the most historic towns in Mexico. Importantly, the hotel allows no children under the age of 11, so you won't be disturbed while you crack open the novel you've never gotten to or just soak up the rays of the sun. The National Institute of Anthropology and History was so enamored with the hotel's repurposed homes that they are designated historical landmarks. The surrounding mountainous landscape seems to be a backdrop that could only be dreamed up in a movie studio, but you can experience the unparalleled quietude and incredible service of the Casa de Sierra Nevada in real life. It's just one trip away.


Heroes in a Half-Shell: Banyan Tree Resorts Saves Turtles

April 13, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

It's always great when a hotel gives back to the habitat that it draws so much from. Banyan Tree Resorts are paying homage to the beautiful and endangered sea turtle with an awareness campaign around the dwindling habitat for these gentle sea creatures.  Felly the Turtle is leading the charge, and while his knitted form might not be particularly seaworthy, it should definitely help his aquatic brethren.  Banyan tree is honoring the coming of Earth Day in under two weeks and doing their part to preserve the habitats that luxury travelers depend upon so much for their enjoyment.  I'll add my voice to the crowd saying that we really appreciate when hotels recognize that they are a part of a habitat and a community and giving back is a wonderful thing. 

Banyan Tree has resorts all over southeastern Asia and Mexico, and you can learn more about their diverse and luxurious properties here.


A Hotel Love Letter: To the One and Only Palmilla

April 6, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

Dear Palmilla,

You are the Only One for me.  The curve of your beaches, your brilliant blue skies, the way your service always comes with a smile. It's enough to make a man blush.  Your beauty is unparalleled. I would write a poem describing it, but my awkward turns of phrase would pale in comparison to the raw, unadulterated perfection you embody, and I fear I would only stumble over my words, as graceful as my inner child, still going through the uncontrollable acne of his middle school years.

When I'm trapped at work, the spreadsheets morph inexplicably into images of your pristine beaches.  I just can't stop thinking about you. I would cross the oceans, travel to the very beaches of Los Cabos itself, just to be with you.  I know a longer relationship could never be, and our time together was always destined to be fleeting, too short to blossom into its full potential. But I hope that as time goes on my memory of you will become all the more poignant for its ephemeral nature. The possibility of seeing you again keeps me going as I slog through the world of faxes and memos; it is a spark of life that I will carry with me always.  May I see you again soon. You are the One and Only, my Palmilla.

With all my heart,

Chris


Special Offers and Packages at the JW Marriott in Cancun, Mexico

April 6, 2012
By: Oksana Balytsky

The JW Marriott Cancun Resort is a beautiful five star property located on the eastern most tip of the Yucatan right on the beach in Cancun. It is one of the most exquisite hotels in Cancun with 448 beautifully decorated rooms featuring private balconies and stunning views of the white sand beaches and bright blue water of the Caribbean. Check out the following phenomenal specials and offers that are too good to pass up, and get ready for a phenomenal vacation!

Sand Dollars Package, 4th Night Free!

Available for ocean view rooms with private balconies, a living/sitting area, and 1 king or 2 double beds as well as junior suites with pool and ocean views, a balcony, 1 king bed separate sitting area, sofa bed, and a dining area . These rooms have a maximum occupancy of 4 people, and for every 4 nights you stay, you get the 4th night free, to be discounted at the front desk.

Escape for 2 Package!

This package is perfect for honeymooners or couples looking for a romantic getaway. It features a premiere ocean view room with a private balcony, 1 king or 2 double beds, and a living/sitting area. This package includes transportation to and from the airport for 2 adults, breakfast buffet for 2 adults at Sedona Grill, wireless internet access, 24 hour room service, unlimited domestic alcoholic beverages by the glass, and 3 course lunch for 2 adults at the Beach Walk Market Place or Sedona Grill.

Escape Connecting Rooms Package!

This is a perfect option for family vacations. It features a premiere ocean view room with a private balcony, 1 king or 2 double beds, and a living/sitting area. This package includes $100 daily resort credit, daily internet access for one device in 1 room, and the rate includes 2 interconnecting rooms.

Escape Spa Package!

This package features a premiere ocean view room with a private balcony, 1 king or 2 double beds, and a living/sitting area. This package includes daily $50 resort credit, daily internet access for 1 device, early bird special treatments (1 per day), 1 spinning class per day, and a 25% discount on treatments at the JW Marriott Spa not applicable to packages, beauty salon services, or treatments less than 50 minutes.


Casa de Sierra Nevada Es Su Casa: Special Rates in the Heart of San Miguel de Allende

January 10, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

Casa de Sierra NevadaA beautiful boutique hotel in a cluster of historic buildings at the heart of San Miguel de Allende, the Casa de Sierra Nevada is the paragon of the small hotel experience in Central America.  The charm of the 33-room Orient-Express property is practically dripping from the stone arches lining its courtyard space.  To preserve the interior serenity, the Casa de Sierra Nevada doesn't allow children 11 or under, so you'll never have to worry about a little tyke with a toy airplane distracting from the last chapter in that novel you've been trying to finish for the last three months.  

Each of the hotel's 33 rooms had to be carefully adapted to hotel rooms as they are designated historical homes by the National Instititute of Anthropology and History.  Meticulously restored using period furniture alongside the more modern amenities of classic luxury, there is a very homely feel to the luxury at Casa de Sierra Nevada.  While larger chain hotels can seem somewhat impersonal even as they offer the best service, in San Miguel de Allende, you'll feel as at home as you would in your own living room, only with the five-star luxury you've come to expect from an attentive and accommodating staff.

 Not only that, reserve a room now to take advantage of special Five Star Alliance rates at the Casa de Sierra Nevada. Reserving through us grants a free room upgrade if available on arrival and a welcome margherita.  I can't think of a better way to start a vacation than reclining in an extra-spacious room with a tropical cocktail.  


Hot off the Press: "The Most Wanted Winter Spa Treatments" by In Style Magazine

November 22, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

One and Only Palmilla, CaboIt's that time of year again. When we start bemoaning our cracked hands, chapped lips and parched winter skin, we know it's time to book a spa treatment ASAP. But where's the best place to rejuvenate with that ultimate winter pick-me up (pre- or post-fête?). In Style to the rescue. Lucky for us, the mag has put together a fab list of "The Most Wanted Winter Spa Treatments." There's the Hot Chocolate Synergy Massage, inspired by the ancient Mayans and using warm chocolate oil to enhance the mood, at One & Only Palmilla, Los Cabos; the Candy Cane Ritual at the Reliquary Water Sanctuary & Spa, Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas; the Pumpkin Nectar Facial at Remède Spa, St. Regis Mexico City; the Peppermint Pedicure
 
to sooth tired feet at Remede Spa, St. Regis San Francisco (Lady Gaga's a fan of the hotel); Santa's Little Helpers Mandara Four Hand Massage at The Cove Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas; and more! For all the delicious details, be sure to check out the article.


Exclusive Perks Offered for Five Star Alliance Travelers at the Maroma Resort and Spa

November 17, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

It’s definitely the little things that set good hotels apart from great ones. We at Five Star Alliance understand that an enjoyable stay at a luxury hotel not only depends on the extravagance of a room, but rather the personal touches and the service you receive. That’s why Five Star Alliance is thrilled to make your trip extraordinary by offering exclusive perks at select hotels for Five Star Alliance travelers.

The Maroma Resort and Spa in Mexico is offering extra amenities for a variety of rooms. Check out the ‘Five Star Alliance’ packages and make a reservation for a variety of rooms ranging in size and luxury for two to eight occupants to receive additional perks. All of the ‘Five Star Alliance’ packages offer an upgrade upon arrival (subject to availability), welcome drink upon arrival, full a la carte menus for 2 each morning, one snorkeling trip per person to the second largest reef, and wake up morning coffee service in room. This resort is set beside a white, sandy beach where you can spend days lounging by the calm ocean, diving in mysterious underwater caves, or going on a shopping spree. This resort has it all, and now it has even more to offer!


Enter Velas Resorts' Photo Contest to Win $25,000 Dream Wedding

October 27, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand Velas Riviera MayaHurry, it's the last week for newly-engaged couples to enter the Velas Weddings' contest to win a tantalizing, $25,000 dream wedding at Grand Velas Riviera Maya! All you have to do is submit the story of your creative marriage proposal along with a photo (optional) of your best moment together on the on the Velas Weddings, Xcaret, and Xel-Há Facebook pages. Ten finalists will be chosen by Velas Resorts in a random drawing on November 1st. On November 2nd the 10 finalists will be notified, and public voting will take place from November 2nd - 19th on the Velas Weddings Facebook Page. The winners will be notified on November 20th, 2011. To see the winning couple from this past spring's contest tie the knot in paradise at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, tune in to www.velasresorts.com/grandwedding for live coverage on October 30. .

Curious to hear more about the winning prize? Read on to learn the details about this all-expenses paid beach wedding on Mexico's idyllic Riviera Maya...

The winning couple will enjoy a unique Mayan ceremony at Xel-Ha, known to be one of the most beautiful natural aquariums in the world, followed by a symbolic or legal ceremony complemented with flowers and music at Xcaret eco-archeological park, which showcases Mexico's mystical natural wonders, biodiversity and cultural heritage. The prize package includes four days and three nights in a luxury ocean-front Ambassador Pool Suite, a beach-side cocktail hour, a three-course wedding reception, live music, hair and makeup for the bride, decorations, wedding cake, $250 gift certificate courtesy of Diamonds International, event photography by Humberto Castilla, "Trash the dress" photo session by Dream Art and a Ultrafemme gift certificate. The couple and guests will also enjoy a welcome dinner at the resort's exclusive Piaf restaurant, dolphin swim courtesy of Delphinus, special shopping excursions to Luxury Avenue and nature tours courtesy of Rio Secreto.


Best of the Best: Royal Hideaway Playacar is Best Luxury Coastal Resort of 2011

September 30, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

Royal Hideaway Playacar, Mexico

 We understand that no one aims to come in second place; there is no recognition for mediocrity. We at Five Star Alliance know better than anyone the importance of offering the most luxurious resorts in the world, so we notice what’s going on in the industry, and it matters to us, because it matters to you. We'd like to welcome you to our new blog series, Best of the Best, where we’ll be featuring the best and most luxurious resorts in various categories. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business by the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards, so you can relax and stop worrying about your upcoming trip, knowing that it truly will be the best of the best.

It’s probably a little out of place to use a gambling metaphor for a coastal resort, but with a name like Royal Hideaway Playacar, it’s hard not to resort [Ed: stop that!] to it when such a shameless pun is on the line: Play your cards right, and you’ll be staying at the Playacar in no time.

Located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, the Royal Hideaway lies on the bluest, clearest waters you’ll ever see. The major selling point? The Hideaway has a minimum age of 13, so there won’t be any of those pesky kids running about and distracting you from the pure relaxation of the Mexican coast. The adult-oriented resort boasts a AAA Five Diamond award and boy has it earned it. Sandy tropical beaches accent the colonial Mexican architecture and leafy palm trees that shade you from the tanning sun. And now that fall is upon us, there’s no better time to escape to a place where the changing of the seasons hasn’t brought a slight chill to the air. Take in the warm rays of sunlight on the furnished balcony or terrace that comes with every single room, and avail yourself of world-class spa treatments. So make sure you check out the Best Luxury Coastal Resort of 2011.